THIS was just what Carlton needed.

After losing two of its past three games – both against traditional rivals Collingwood and Richmond – to remove some of the gloss off a stunning start to the Michael Voss era, the Blues rolled up their sleeves and produced a blue collar four-quarter performance in an old-fashioned eight-point game at Marvel Stadium.

BLUES v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats

Now Carlton is back on the winners list and back in the top-four – at least for right now – after winning a crucial encounter with eight-point ramifications against top-four rival Fremantle by 31 points at Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

07:11 Mins
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Highlights: Carlton v Fremantle

The Blues and Dockers clash in round 15

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In a round where most fixtures mean more than just the four points on offer, the Blues have banked arguably their most impressive victory under Voss to move to 10 wins from 14 games, matching the Dockers almost every step of the way in the 12.9 (81) to 7.8 (50) win. 

Sam Walsh was the architect. The 21-year-old – yes he is still only 21 and doesn’t turn 22 until next month – produced another dominant display in game No.74, amassing 16 disposals in the second quarter alone to put him on a path to a career-high 40 disposals, 13 contested possessions, 11 inside 50s and seven clearances.

Sam Walsh kicks the ball during Carlton's round 15 win over Fremantle at Marvel Stadium on June 25, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Nine days after they were beaten up around the ball by Richmond at the MCG, the Blues smashed Fremantle around the ball, winning the inside 50 count by 24, the clearance count by 14 and the tackle count by 10.

On a day where the howling cacophony of noise from one-eyed Carlton supporters reverberated under the roof in Docklands, no one roused the faithful more than Charlie Curnow, the precociously talented key forward they've been deprived of for two years.

Curnow extended his lead at the top of the Coleman Medal leaderboard by kicking four goals to move to 44 from the first 15 rounds, continuing a remarkable resurgence from the 25-year-old.

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Curnow catches a dime and curls one in no time

Charlie Curnow is pumped after taking a strong grab and snapping truly immediately after

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The concern in the build-up was how this undermanned and inexperienced defence was going to be able to handle Matt Taberner and Rory Lobb. That has been the story since Jacob Weitering injured his AC joint before the bye and became an even greater concern when Mid-Season Rookie Draft selection Sam Durdin joined the John Nicholls Medallist on the sidelines, along with almost every other key defender on the list – Mitch McGovern, Oscar McDonald, Caleb Marchbank and Luke Parks – following the untimely departure of Liam Jones at the end of last year.

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Flying Fyfe gets some serious hangtime

Nat Fyfe once again launches himself in the air to complete this terrific grab

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But the makeshift defence of Lewis Young and Brodie Kemp – in just his fifth game – plus the cool, calm guidance of Sam Docherty and Adam Saad was enough to navigate past another game where the best key defensive options were watching from the grandstand.

Fremantle kicked the first three goals of the game and it took 19 minutes for Carlton to score when Matthew Kennedy's goal was overturned on review to the disgust of a howling navy Blue turnout, but Voss couldn’t have been too unhappy by the first break. Coleman Medallist Harry McKay missed his first two shots – one hit the post, the other just missed – but got on the board late in the term to reduce the margin to nine points. The Blues were on top, they just couldn’t find the right target inside 50.

Harry McKay celebrates a goal during Carlton's round 15 win over Fremantle at Marvel Stadium on June 25, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

That changed during a blistering 12-minute patch in the second quarter where Carlton kicked four goals to none and left a couple more on the table. Fremantle raised its intensity after the main break but couldn’t capitalise on the momentum, before the Blues cruised to victory late, atoning for a disappointing showing against the Dockers in Perth earlier in the season.

With so many fighting for so few spots – in the four and in the eight – this was a game Carlton simply had to win to maintain its pursuit of September.

And they didn’t disappoint.

Jack Newnes is chaired off by his Blues' teammates after he played his 200th match in round 15 against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium on June 25, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Milestone Blue delivers

He might not be the biggest name the Blues have lured to Princes Park in the past few years, but Jack Newnes has proven tremendous value for money since moving from St Kilda at the end of 2019. The wingman has had to fight for his spot under David Teague and Michael Voss, but he reached the 200-game milestone in style on Saturday. The 29-year-old was one of the better players on the ground in the first-half, kicking a crucial goal and dishing off to Charlie Curnow to get the Blues to the main break in a strong position.

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Every Blue swarms Newnes after milestone goal

Jack Newnes is surrounded by teammates after nailing a goal in his 200th game

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MRO strife for superstar?

An incident shortly after the three-quarter time siren might attract some attention from the Match Review Officer after Nat Fyfe made contact with an umpire. The dual Brownlow Medallist was pushed from behind by Matt Cottrell and braces for contact with umpire Robert O’Gorman by putting his hand on his chest to stop his momentum going forward.

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Final-break fireworks with Fyfe touching the umpire

Dockers skipper Nat Fyfe finds himself in the middle of a heated three-quarter-time clash

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Late, late out

After playing the first 13 games of the season and emerging as a young gun at Princes Park under Michael Voss, Matthew Owies was a very late out on Saturday afternoon after suffering a calf injury in the warm-up. Jesse Motlop came into the 22, with Will Setterfield handed the medi-sub role.

Jesse Motlop in action during round 15 clash between Carlton and Fremantle at Marvel Stadium on June 25, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

CARLTON            1.3       6.5       8.5       12.9 (81)
FREMANTLE        3.0       4.2       7.6        7.8 (50)

GOALS  
Carlton: Curnow 4, Cottrell 2, McKay 2, O’Brien 2, Newnes, Silvagni
Fremantle: Taberner 2, Banfield, Colyer, Lobb, Schulz, Henry

BEST   
Carlton: Walsh, Curnow, Hewett, Fisher, Saad, Docherty, Newnes
Fremantle:  Brodie, Young, Pearce, Aish, Brayshaw, Darcy

INJURIES  
Carlton: Jordan Boyd (ankle)
Fremantle: Nil

SUBSTITUTES  
Carlton: Will Setterfield (replaced Boyd in fourth quarter)
Fremantle: Mitchell Crowden (unused)